Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Education Foundation ponies up

Financial support comes in handy for teachers in county

Express Staff Writer

Mary Gin Barron, a teacher at the new Woodside Elementary School, expresses her gratitude to the Education Foundation for a monetary award that will help purchase new supplies. "I love the new school," she said, while recognizing that the school will start off in the fall short on supplies. Photo by David N. Seelig

The Education Foundation introduced its new executive director, Heather Crocker, formerly of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, at the foundation's annual luncheon Thursday, May 4, at the Valley Club, north of Hailey.

Outgoing board chairman Bob Corker read the names of the incoming board, along with the Excellence in Education Awards given annually to Blaine County educators.

The new co-chairs of the board are Laura Morowitz and Jeff Neel. Sue Garing is the incoming treasurer and Shari Kunz is the new secretary. They will each serve a three-year term. New board members are Becky Benson, Patty Tobin and Millie Reidy.

Jared Stoltzfus, a Wood River High School senior acting as the Education Foundation's student liaison, showed a Power Point presentation on where the money that was donated in the past has gone. Guest speaker Rebekah Helzel of Advocates for Real Community Housing spoke of the need for all employers to make community housing a priority. The effect of the high cost of housing is particularly hurting the education community, she said.

One statistic Helzel shared with the gathering was the "affordability gap." Since 1994, the income for a family of four increased 68 percent. In that same time, the cost of a single-family home increased 277 percent, she said.

"No longer just keeping people out, it's pushing people (already) in homes out with higher appraisals and taxes," she said. "Housing is a critical issue for teachers. What we lose is community. We have to consider housing as a subsidy to equity."

Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Lewis agreed. "Fifty percent of teachers offered jobs in Blaine County are turning them down due to housing costs," he said. "We're now hiring our second and third choices."

However, there are positive signs, Helzel said. For instance, the new Woodside Elementary School will have eight units of affordable housing.

The Excellence in Education Awards went to:

· Wood River High School, Larry Barnes, $75 for Vernier science probe stand.

· Woodside Elementary, Mary Gin Barron, $2,000 for Accelerated Reading quizzes for the new library.

· Woodside Elementary, Joni Cashman, $3,600 for kiln and ceramics equipment for new art room.

· Bellevue Elementary, Anne Elmore, $233 for art history and art instruction books for art class.

· Wood River High School, Elizabeth Lowry, $927 for new computer for special education classes.

· Wood River High School, Amy McGraw, $1,186 for LCD projector for senior projects.

· Carey School, Hollis Pincock, $800 for mirrors for the music room.

· Carey School, Lee Pace, $700 for analytical balance for chemistry and physics.

· Bellevue Elementary, Sarah Polk, $1,024 for National Geographic Windows on Literacy curriculum materials.

· Bellevue Elementary, Judy Shelly and Gloria Wieand, $887 for reading materials for special education classes.

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